Mobile clinic trucks in 400-fold improvement to rural heart care

22Mar2016

Fortnightly heart care has been successfully trucked into towns across Queensland with the Heart of Australia program delivering its 400th clinic this week.

Launched in October 2014 with foundation partner Arrow Energy, Heart of Australia has provided cardiac care to 11 rural towns across the state, via a 25m long mobile clinic and travelling specialist team.

Founder and Cardiologist Dr Rolf Gomes said patient uptake had been terrific, particularly in St George and Dalby.

“The past 18 months that the Heart of Australia program has been on the road, and the number of patients we’ve seen, has confirmed the real need for this service in regional and remote areas,” Dr Gomes said.

“One of the things we underappreciate in these communities is the difficulties in accessing services and the distance involved in going to a cardiology appointment – for some people that’s a 15 hour car trip to get to see a specialist.

“People put off appointments or ignore warning signs because it’s just too far to travel and quite often that decision becomes a matter of life or death.”

St George residents Peggy and D’Arcy Stewart know just too well the difficulty with travelling to city centres to receive specialist care. The couple, who have been married for 57 years, have both survived serious heart attacks and need ongoing care.

Peggy and D’Arcy are now regular patients of Heart of Australia and can’t recommend the service highly enough.

“I had a heart attack eight years ago and I had a stent put in so I need to monitor it and have regular checkups,” D’Arcy said.

“I had to travel to Brisbane for those checkups but we live more than 600 kilometers from Brisbane, so it was a real headache to even think about making that trip – I’m nearly 82 and the travel was just too hard.

“Life is a lot easier now that the truck comes to St George – it only takes a few hours instead of a few days and saves a lot of time and expense.

“Now going to see a cardiologist is easier than going to pick up the mail from the post office!”

The Heart of Australia service not only provides follow up care for ongoing cases, but has also saved lives, diagnosing serious conditions in new patients.

A significant number of patients that have visited the clinic have been diagnosed with serious heart conditions that required urgent medical attention.

Arrow Energy Vice President External Relations and Tenure Management Leisa Elder said it was great to see the positive impact the program had on people’s lives across the state.

“In 2013, when Dr Gomes told us about his Heart of Australia vision, we immediately saw its value for regional communities,” Ms Elder said.

“Not only is the program providing care to those most at need but equally it’s helping to raise awareness amongst regional communities about the importance of taking time out to have health checkups and look after your heart.

“The number of clinics held across the state clearly demonstrates the Heart of Australia program is helping to break down access barriers and improve long term health care in regional Queensland.”

The Heart of Australia service travels to Dalby, Goondiwindi, St George, Charleville, Roma, Longreach, Emerald, Barcaldine, Hughenden, Charters Towers and Moranbah.

See more of the stories from patients in St George.

To find out more about the service visit www.heartofaustralia.com.

-ENDS-

Program deliverables:

Since launching in October 2014, the Heart of Australia program has:

  • conducted 400 clinics
  • provided 2700 episodes of care
  • identified 573 urgent cases
  • identified 362 patients who require ongoing cardiology treatment
  • saved each patient 840km per visit in travel (on average)
  • reduced or eliminated hospital admissions by 216 days

Fast facts:

  • The clinic, towed by a Kenworth prime mover, has two consulting rooms, ultrasound, electrocardiogram and cardiac stress testing equipment. It can instantly share test results with other GPs and hospitals and allow other specialists to dial-in through state-of-the-art telemedicine capabilities.
  • Patients need a GP referral before undergoing a Heart of Australia consultation and specialist testing if required. Clinic consultations are a normal fee-for-service, in line with metropolitan rates.
  • Heart of Australia is an extension of Arrow's Brighter Futures community investment fund which has contributed more than $17 million to community projects across Queensland since 2011.
  • Aside from Arrow's foundation partnership, Heart of Australia has received funding and in-kind support from the Australian and Queensland governments, Bayer Australia, St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital, IOR Petroleum, Kenworth, Telstra Country Wide, Brown & Hurley, Kia, GT Insurance, Regional Express Airlines and Bridgestone Australia.
  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects one in six Australians and, on average, kills one Australian every 12 minutes (National Heart Foundation of Australia).

Media contacts:

Arrow Energy
Phone: 0400 693 248
Email: media@arrowenergy.com.au

Heart of Australia
Phone: 0417 722 903
Email: dina@heartofaustralia.com


Arrow Energy
Arrow Energy is an integrated coal seam gas (CSG) company that explores and develops gas fields, produces and sells CSG and generates electricity. The company has been safely and sustainably developing CSG since 2000, supplying it commercially since 2004 and now delivers almost 20 per cent of Queensland’s gas from its five CSG fields in the Bowen and Surat basins. Arrow is working to meet the growing international demand for cleaner burning fuels through gas supply for liquefied natural gas. Arrow is owned by a joint venture company between Shell and PetroChina (50/50).

Heart of Australia
Heart of Australia is a service that embodies the most innovative approach to frontline specialist medical service delivery in generations – helping people whose lives are threatened by this nation’s vast distances. Launched in October 2014, Heart of Australia brings fortnightly cardiac and respiratory services to rural and remote communities across Queensland on a 25m-long custom-designed clinic-on-wheels, driven by a Kenworth K200 prime mover. The mobile clinic visits 11 locations across Queensland including Roma, Dalby, Charleville, St George, Goondiwindi, Emerald, Barcaldine, Longreach, Hughenden, Charters Towers and Moranbah.

Dr Rolf Gomes
Dr Gomes is a general Cardiologist with a special interest in heart failure, valvular heart disease and echocardiography. He graduated from Medicine from The University of Queensland after which he completed his Cardiology Specialty training at The Prince Charles Hospital and The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital. He is a Fellow of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians and a member of the Australian Medical Association. Dr Gomes is a visiting Cardiologist at Ipswich Public Hospital and sees patients at The Wesley Hospital, Saint Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Holy Spirit Northside Private Hospital, Brisbane Private Hospital, Greenslopes Private Hospital, The Mater Private Hospital, Sunnybank Private Hospital and Saint Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital. Dr Gomes is also the CEO and Founder of the Heart of Australia program.